June 13, 2016, file photo, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents (AP, File)

The DEA’s war against the Mexican Army has just begun and will not stop even with the U.S. presidential elections.

MEXICO CITY (El Universal/Anabel Hernández) – The DEA has had Mexico among its main objectives for years due to diverse drug trafficking groups’ presence and operation.

The recent capture of the former Secretary of National Defense, Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, unleashed one of the strongest scandals for being the first head of that agency arrested for drug trafficking links.

However, the DEA affirms that the former official did not operate alone and would have in his possession the list with the names of the high military commands, generals, and middle commands that were part of the structure that operated for the Beltrán Leyva Brothers cartel in the state of Nayarit.

Journalist Salvador Garcia Soto of the newspaper El Universal said that Mexican and U.S. government sources confirmed that the agency’s names could generate new arrest warrants by the U.S. Department of Justice.

These officers and generals under the command of Cienfuegos Zepeda would have been part of what the communicator points out as “a network of corruption” related to drug trafficking.

The military would have provided protection and support to Juan Francisco Patrón Sánchez, the man who remained at the head of the cartel after the Beltrán Leyva brothers’ death.

Everything seems to point out that the evidence that incriminates this group has been obtained from the Mexican general’s phone. Said conversations and messages would reveal the alleged bribes the head of the Sedena was receiving for allowing the trafficking of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines from Nayarit.

In its column in El Universal entitled “The DEA’s List,” it is stated that the U.S. anti-drug institution would not have to wait for the Mexican government to take any legal action and would be able to request other arrest warrants for the military men whose names were mentioned.

In contrast, Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said his administration would “not carry out a clean up” within the Army unless Cienfuegos’ guilt is proven for the crimes he is accused of.

For the journalist, the DEA’s actions detached from the Mexican government is an apparent reference to the fact that “they lost their confidence after the failed operation to detain and extradite Ovidio Guzmán, son of Chapo Guzmán.”

The former secretary of the Sedena was arrested in Los Angeles last October 15 and is accused of four charges: three for drug trafficking and one for money laundering.

Closeness between General Cienfuegos and Beltrán Leyva
According to investigative journalist Anabel Hernández, who has investigated drug trafficking in Mexico for more than a decade, the proximity between Arturo Beltrán Leyva and Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was such that they were seen together at parties, drinking tequila and chatting on a yacht in the bay of Acapulco, when the general was the commander of the ninth military region in Guerrero.

Anabel Hernández maintains, according to her investigations, that Cienfuegos Zepeda’s links with organized crime, particularly with the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, are not new. They date back to at least 2005 and 2007. This has also been stated by narcos such as Sergio Villareal, El Grande, lieutenant to Arturo Beltrán Leyva, El Barbas.

The Trial
In a first hearing, which lasted only 15 minutes, Cienfuegos’ lawyers asked for bail so that their client could continue his process outside of prison. They offered USD 750,000.

Judge Alexander F. McKinnon and U.S. prosecutors determined that this option would not be possible due to the seriousness of the charges against the former official. They assured that Cienfuegos Zepeda should remain in prison since he could run away and travel to Mexico, where he would be protected by corrupt officials with whom he has ties.

The case of “El Padrino,” as the DEA nicknamed him, was transferred to New York, in the same court where Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was tried and currently where the case of Genaro García Luna, ex-Security Secretary who received alleged bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel, is being held.

The Yucatan Times
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